France on top of the world again

France on top of the world again

France's Olivier Giroud lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the World Cup. (Reuters)

France won the World Cup for the second time in their history after beating Croatia 4-2 in an entertaining final here on Sunday.

In a match that had a bit of everything, Mario Mandzukic scored the first ever own goal in a World Cup final to put France in front at the Luzhniki Stadium, only for Ivan Perisic to equalise.

However, Antoine Griezmann’s penalty put France back in front after Perisic’s handball was penalised with the aid of the video assistant referee. Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe scored the other French goals in the second half. 

The first team to score four times in a final since Brazil in 1970, the French could even afford to see Mandzukic pull a goal back following a ridiculous goalkeeping mistake by Hugo Lloris.

France join Uruguay and Argentina in winning the World Cup for the second time, after their 1998 triumph over Brazil when Didier Deschamps – now the coach – was the captain.

Deschamps becomes just the third man to win the trophy as a player and a coach, following in the footsteps of Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer.

The game will be remembered as the highest-scoring World Cup final since England’s win over West Germany in 1966, and for Mbappe becoming the youngest player to score in the final since Pele in 1958.

Croatia played all the football early on, with Mbappe on the fringes of the game, but it was France who went in front in the 18th minute. Griezmann won a soft free-kick wide on the right and his delivery into the area was flicked into his own net by the unfortunate Mandzukic.

Their coach Zlatko Dalic looked rueful, but his team were back level just before the half-hour, Domagoj Vida laying the ball off for Perisic, who shuffled the ball from right foot to left before drilling a superb shot past Lloris with the aid of a touch off Raphael Varane. But Perisic was at the centre of the controversy that led to France’s second goal in the 38th minute.

Griezmann stroked home the penalty, his fourth goal of the competition and his third from a spot-kick.

Shortly after several pitch invaders briefly interrupted proceedings, the third French goal arrived in the 59th minute, with Pogba striking off a pass from Griezmann.

Mbappe then added his name to the scoresheet in the 65th minute when he fired low past Danijel Subasic.

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